Workplace Rights

Weekly (8/17/20)

Topic of the Week  Parental Leave

Parental leave is any leave taken by an employee for the birth, adoption or placement of a child. Parental leave can be taken as a form of Family Medical Leave, or any other leave provided by the employer. Pregnancy, or maternity leave is a form of parental leave taken either for a disability related to pregnancy or childbirth or the time taken after birth to care for a newly born or newly placed child. Men can also take parental leave to care for a newly born or newly placed child, this is often referred to as paternity leave.

Is my employer required by law to offer pregnancy leave?

It depends. As to the time a woman is unable to perform work because of pregnancy and childbirth, the law requires only that an employer treat pregnancy the same way that other temporary disabilities are treated. If employees are allowed to use leave (such as sick leave or short-term disability leave) when temporarily disabled by illnesses or injury (such as broken limbs, minor surgery, or the flu), due to an inability to work and/or need for medical care, then pregnant employees are entitled to take leave during the time they are similarly disabled.

However, employers are not required to treat pregnancy more favorably than they treat other temporary disabilities. If an employer does not provide leave for temporary disabilities and temporarily disabled employees must take leave without pay, be docked for absences, and/or face termination after a certain number of absences, then pregnant employees may risk the same consequences for pregnancy-related absences.

The law also doesn't prohibit employment decisions based on an employee's conduct that may be caused by pregnancy. For example, an employer doesn't have to treat an employee who was late due to morning sickness any better than an employee who was equally late for a different health reason.

However, employers of 50 or more employees may be required to comply with the FMLA and allow employees to take unpaid leave for pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing following the birth of a child.

How long am I eligible to take leave to bond with my child after birth?

Leave to bond with a newborn child or newly placed (by adoption or foster care) must conclude within 12 months after the birth or placement. FMLA intermittent leave can be used for this purpose, but must be approved by your employer.

If the newly born or newly placed child has a serious health condition, the employee has the right to FMLA leave to care for the child intermittently if medically necessary and such leave is available.

Can my employer deny me medical leave for pregnancy-related complications?

If your company grants leave to other temporarily disabled employees, it must also grant you leave for the period of time you are disabled by pregnancy and its related conditions. Unfortunately, if other temporarily disabled workers are not entitled to leave or benefits, then neither are pregnant women or temporarily physically disabled new mothers, unless they are entitled to leave under the Family & Medical Leave Act. Nothing in Title VII requires an employer to provide disability leave or pay medical or hospital coverage to any worker.

Thought of the Week

"The entitlement to paid parental leave is triggered by the actual occurrence of a birth or placement, which results in the employee having a parental role. Thus, paid parental leave must only be used after the birth or placement has occurred. Paid parental leave continues to be available only as long as the employee has a continuing parental role with respect to the newly born or placed child."

–5 U.S.C. 6382(d)(2)(B)(i)

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Weekly Comic by Jerry King

Blog of the Week

Top Five News Headlines

    List of the Week

    from Boston College Center for Work & Family

    Men/Fathers and Parental Leave

    • While 90% of fathers take some time off after their children are born, the majority of them take less than 10 days away from the job.
    • 60% of men surveyed took the full amount of available parental leave, and those who did not take the full amount took most of it.
    • Men who were eligible for eight weeks of leave took an average of 7.2 weeks, while men who were eligible for 16 weeks took an average of 12.8 weeks.


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